Unable to celebrate in person because of the coronavirus pandemic, the faculty from the Media and Society (MDSC) Department honored graduating seniors in a Zoom event that featured awards, honors and toasts. The event was hosted by Assistant Professor of Media and Society Rebecca Burditt (pictured above) and Visiting Assistant Professor Iskandar Zulkarnain.
“One of the greatest gifts of the small liberal arts college education is the cultivation of pleasure in the act of learning,” Associate Professor of Media and Society Leah Shafer told students as she kicked off the evening. “It is our greatest hope that you will continue to explore the world with the kind of attention and curiosity and, above all, pleasure that you brought to the learning that you did in our classes.”
Demonstrating the “many possible futures” that MDSC graduates can chart, Associate Professor of Media and Society Lisa Patti introduced videos from recent alums Bree von Bradsky ’16, a global traveler currently working toward a master’s in experimental and documentary arts at Duke University, and William Samayoa ’19, a film publicity coordinator in Hollywood.
“Remaining connected to professors and fellow students in the department has proven monumental in my career trajectory,” von Bradsky said. “I encourage you to keep in touch.” Samayoa advised seniors to remember, “You are going into a world that is full of possibilities. Whatever you want to do, you are prepared to do.”
Professor of Media and Society Linda Robertson honored retiring Associate Professor of Africana Studies Marilyn Jimenez as “one of the primary shaping forces of the HWS curriculum ever since her arrival” in 1984. Robertson emphasized that “prior to [Jimenez’s] groundbreaking efforts, HWS had no program-level offerings in the film or literature of people of color.”
Winners of the Marilyn Jimenez Media and Society Student Film Award, given to MDSC students who best exemplify Jimenez’s generous, creative and adventurous spirit, were announced by Zulkarnain. This year’s recipients are Addison Gilbard ’20, Chloe Emler ’20, Israel Oyedapo ’20 and Brian Haeffner ’20.
Visiting Assistant Professor Jiangtao “Harry” Gu ’13 introduced Kelsea Brown ’20, Eve Martin ’20, Gabriel Pietrorazio ’20 and Jake Preston ’20 as recipients of the Lester Freidman Outstanding Student Book Prize. Named for Emeritus Professor of Media and Society Lester Friedman, described by Gu as “a prolific writer and beloved teacher … who dedicated his career to extending our critical awareness of American cinema and advocating for the study of media across disciplines,” the award is given to students who best exemplify his engaging and insightful scholarship.
Pietrorazio — a double major in MDSC and political science — was also acknowledged for completing his Honors project, “Perceptions of Prisons in Upstate New York,” which examines how small local presses represent correctional facilities. He will attend the Philip Merrill School of Journalism at the University of Maryland in the fall.
After toasts from faculty, Burditt concluded the evening by reminding graduating seniors that “the world needs your wisdom.”
In the photo above, Assistant Professor of Media and Society Rebecca Burditt teaches class.